I have received a new set of DVDs from China--the same set frequently listed on ebay as "JANPANSE ANIME: KIMBA, THE WHITE LION ~ ENG SUB". The brand name given on the box for this set is "Golden Horse", while half of the DVDs have a logo that says "Manga".
I am sorry to say this is not the subtitled version of Jungle Emperor many fans have been hoping for. In fact, the whole set is so bad, it's fascinating.
What it is, basically, is a copy of all 10 of the Japanese Jungle Emperor DVDs
(all 52 episodes) with subtitling added. The bad news, however, is
that the English subtitles are so badly done they are
incomprehensible 75% of the time. And, of the 10 discs in the set, 5
don't even have any English subtitles at all.
The 5 discs that are subtilted in English appear to have been done by
5 different people who have no knowledge of English, using 5
different translation software packages. So even when you start to
figure out some of the translating quirks (oh, that's too kind a word
to use), everything changes when you put in the next disc.
Kimba's name (Leo) is translated as "the Lyons" on Disc 1, as "Lei Ou" on
Disc 3, and as "Thunder Europe" on Disc 5.
Kitty's name (Riya) is "fields lying fallow".
Boss Rhino is "hair".
Roger Ranger (Kenichi) is "a".
In the scene where Kimba first speaks, he says "Kenichi-san" over and
over and the subtitles just say, "a".
Here's one of the five translations of the ending theme song:
"Breeze at blow, rain at rain
But storm blow to not pour the white lion
Dream at at present
The facing has no a dead-end front"
And so it goes for the dialog within the episodes.
Oh, and the subtitles for episode 3 (at least) need to be rated NC-17, because of the "f" word. I have no idea what they were really trying to say.
But if people thought "all your base are belong to us" was a hoot,
then this set is a gold mine. My favorite line so far:
"The hello thinks desperately of go away".
The DVDs themselves are single-layer (4.7 megabyte) discs, while the
Japanese discs were dual layer (9 megabytes per disc). This means the
visuals have been re-encoded at lower quality. They're not horrible,
but more like Super Video CD quality than DVD quality. So far, I've
run across two major glitches in the re-encoded video, too.
I can't write this set off entirely, though, because the Japanese DVD
sets are about to become unavailable--they were made as a "limited
release" and CDJapan says that now there's just a few copies left of
the first set. Unless and until a new set is made avaialable by the
proper people, this Chinese box will be the only thing keeping
original Jungle Emperor shows available to fans. And that is
why companies in China can turn out crap like this and end up
performing something of a service for fans. Dare we hope that someone at Columbia
in Japan will produce a new set, with English subtitles this time? Or maybe, because of its low price, that this set will find its way into the hands of an
interested fansub group?
(May 9, 2004)
UPDATE (September 24, 2004):
A second set of Jungle Emperor DVDs has surfaced from China, this one also boasting of English subtitles. The packaging on this one is of higher quality, and bears the logos of both Nippon Columbia and Tezuka Osamu Animation World, giving the impression that this set may be officially licensed. However, the English subtitles are exactly the same as on the first set from China, mentioned above, which means they are next to useless. This new set does have English subtitles on all 10 discs (unlike the other set), for what little that's worth. This new set, however, made a major technical error in setting the "widescreen flag" on each disc, which tells your DVD player that the programs on the disc are in widescreen (letterbox) format! This means that the picture comes out "squashed" vertically. If you have a normal TV, you may get a normal picture while playing these by changing your DVD player settings to widescreen (which would normally "squish" the picture horizontally).